Sunday June 16th and we met for our first Yatra in the Cheese and Grain car park central Frome. The word Yatra is a Sanskrit word for ‘journey ‘ or ‘procession’. Often a Yatra is a pilgrimage to a holy or sacred place. We decided to acknowledge the sacred in the beautiful nature all around us on Sunday as we headed out of Frome along the river towards Great Elm.
Just before heading off Matt reminded us that the Buddha encouraged walking alone in nature – he would take off alone for three months to spend time in meditation. 2500 years ago the monks and lay practitioners did not sit in meditation halls together – they sat in groves, parkland, cemeteries and generally out in nature. For much of their year, in the Indian state of Bihar, I guess they may have had better weather than us – and maybe they took cover during the monsoon rains but we all acknowledged that there is something very deeply connecting in practicing outside in quiet natural environments.
We walked in silence for 40 minutes then chatted for 40 minutes – alternating as we walked and stopped for lunch on the ancient sea bed rock in the quarry at Great Elm – the sunshine too.
It was a great day, I felt my body relax, all the tension gently letting go as we walked slower that I would normally walk out of town – through Whatcombe fields. The wild flowers in this field owned by a Frome Collective were beautiful and attracted swooping aerodynamic super flyers the house martins and swifts – so elegant and sleek under the grey skies. The starlings gave us a little show too on our way up the hill – a mini murmuration– reminding me of the systemic fields we too live within unconsciously.
My lasting memory of our wonderful day is of the smells of elderflower, wild garlic and roses – along with great companionship and a growing community of dharma practitioners.
Here are a couple of comments from Yatri :
The Yatra yesterday has been a very special and rich experience for me. Walking in the beautiful nature of Frome partly in silence, partly in conversing magically created a bond for me with every detail of the whole experience, that I still feel. I am most grateful for this opportunity I was given.
Thank you all both the organizers and the participants.
I will be looking forward to the next Yatra meeting in July.
Such a simple and beautiful day...walking connected by silence and walking connected by speech. Sitting in a circle sharing food and words. A heart opening experience, receptive to nature, to the present moment and to each other. Thank you to Matt and Nic for holding the vision. Looking forward to next time!